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Issue 1, 2012
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Tanning salons and skin cancer

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Indoor tanning has substantially grown in USA and Europe, more especially in the sun-deprived Northern countries, but also in more sunny countries such as Queensland, Australia. Several studies have specifically addressed the prevalence of sunbed use by children and adolescents in Northern Europe and in the USA, and showed that up to 40–50% of teenagers 15–18 years old had ever used indoor tanning, the highest figures being observed among girls in Scandinavia and Minnesota. Indoor tanning among adults is mostly prevalent in age classes younger than 45. Epidemiological studies have shown that exposure to sunbeds increases the risk of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers: a meta-analysis of 19 studies published before 2006 showed that ever-use of sunbeds was positively associated with melanoma (summary relative risk, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.00–1.31), and first exposure before 35 years of age significantly increased melanoma risk (7 studies, RR = 1.75; 95% CI, 1.35–2.26). Further epidemiological data documented the links between artificial UV tanning and melanoma: two large case-control studies in Minnesota and Australia yielded higher melanoma risks for ever use of sunbeds: 1.74 (95%CI, 1.42–2.14) and 1.41 (95%CI, 1.01–1.96) respectively, risk increasing with greater use and earlier age at first use. The most compelling evidence derives from a large cohort of Norwegian and Swedish women which showed that melanoma risk increased with accumulating exposure (RR for solarium use ≥1 time per month in two or three decades, 10–39 years, 2.37 (95%CI, 1.37–4.08)). In addition, the analysis of a melanoma epidemic observed in Iceland between 1995 and 2002, on the trunk of women younger than 50, pointed out the possible role of the explosion of exposure to sunbeds in this country after 1985. Exposure to artificial ultraviolet is a risk factor for melanoma. Risk appears modest in the general population, but concentrates in the population that started sunbed use before the age of 35; the risk attributable to sunbed use in melanoma patients younger than 30 may be as high as 43 to 76%. Of particular concern is the use of sunbeds by adolescents. Use of sunbeds should be strongly discouraged, and banned under the age of 18.

Graphical abstract: Tanning salons and skin cancer

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Article information

17 Jun 2011
08 Jul 2011
First published
15 Aug 2011

Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2012,11, 30-37
Article type

Tanning salons and skin cancer

J. Doré and M. Chignol, Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2012, 11, 30
DOI: 10.1039/C1PP05186E

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